While the launch date of the no-quarantine Singapore-Hong Kong travel bubble is yet to be confirmed, last month's announcement of the in-principle bilateral agreement has already triggered a positive response among travellers in both cities.
In the week that followed the first announcement on 15 October, flight searches for travel from Singapore to Hong Kong, which had flatlined since the beginning of the Covid-19 crisis, soared to 50% of 2019 levels, while tickets issued jumped by 30%, according to ForwardKeys.
Data from the travel intelligence firm revealed that the main focus of travellers’ interest is the Christmas holiday period, with the peak dates for flight searches to Hong Kong covering the weeks of 10, 17 and 24 December.
Travel has already been booked throughout December, with the 18–25 being the peak travel dates, ForwardKeys revealed, and a vast majority of people, over 80%, will be travelling for leisure or to visit friends and relatives.
The immediate spike in flight searches and issued tickets is deemed "significant" by ForwardKeys' Asia Pacific director Jameson Wong as "it proves that people want to travel and they will travel, as soon as the right safety protocols are put in place and government-imposed travel restrictions are lifted”.
“We can expect material gains in travel demand, certainly more than what we are tracking right now, when the policy is implemented and when the precise details of the Singapore-HK travel bubble are announced. I am confident that other countries in the region will see this as a case study to guide their own travel facilitation initiatives in the near future,” Wong concludes positively.
However, Wong also pointed out that the bubble flights, i.e. specially designated flights which allow travellers to enter the destination without the quarantine restriction, are not yet available without a confirmation date of the Singapore-Hong Kong travel bubble launch. "These bubble flights are not yet announced - and are not yet in the system for purchase," he told Travel Weekly Asia.
Meanwhile, interest in hotel searches in Hong Kong from Singapore has increased dramatically when the announcement was first made. Sojern observed a 400% spike in intent in the last three weeks indexed to June, and a 200% increase in search intent from Singapore to Hong Kong.
However, since the announcement, we see a drop in searches between Hong Kong and Singapore and this could be due to the fact that both governments are still working together on finalising the details of travel between the two countries.
Looking at future dates of travel between the two cities, Sojern is also reporting some interest in travel post-New Years and for Chinese New Year, which is in February 2021.